Chris Varma, Frontier Medicines CEO (file photo)

Ab­b­Vie eyes can­cer, im­munol­o­gy in lat­est pro­tein degra­da­tion pact, hand­ing Fron­tier Med­i­cines $55M up­front

Two years af­ter tip­toe­ing in­to the pro­tein degra­da­tion space with a dis­cov­ery pact cen­tered on neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion, Ab­b­Vie is wad­ing deep­er to ex­plore the more com­mon ap­pli­ca­tions in can­cer and im­muno­log­i­cal dis­eases.

The phar­ma gi­ant is hand­ing Fron­tier Med­i­cines $55 mil­lion up­front to get things start­ed while promis­ing to re­im­burse its pre­clin­i­cal R&D costs. In ad­di­tion to drug can­di­dates that tar­get E3 lig­as­es — a key mem­ber of the body’s nat­ur­al degra­da­tion sys­tem — Fron­tier will al­so be scout­ing small mol­e­cule binders to tar­gets.

At the core of Fron­tier’s plat­form, CEO Chris Var­ma pre­vi­ous­ly ex­plained to End­points News, is some­thing they call chemo­pro­teomics. By ex­am­in­ing tem­po­rary pock­ets in pro­teins, they find new ways to bind tar­gets usu­al­ly con­sid­ered un­drug­gable.

The plat­form has opened up a vast ar­ray of tar­gets, he sug­gest­ed in a state­ment. Team­ing up with Ab­b­Vie will cre­ate a shared pipeline sep­a­rate from its in­ter­nal one, and the big­ger part­ner will be ful­ly re­spon­si­ble for clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment once a pro­gram cross­es the thresh­old.

Fron­tier is based out of South San Fran­cis­co, just min­utes from the R&D hub Ab­b­Vie has blue­print­ed in Oys­ter Point. In ad­di­tion to the up­front, it’s el­i­gi­ble for more than $1 bil­lion in mile­stones, $45 mil­lion of which are lined up for the com­ing year.

Tar­get­ed pro­tein degra­da­tion and chemo­pro­teomics are among the key strate­gic fo­cus ar­eas at Ab­b­Vie, said Jose-Car­los Gutiér­rez-Ramos, VP of dis­cov­ery.

It’s not alone. Sanofi, Roche, Bay­er, Gilead and Ver­tex have all inked their own pro­tein degra­da­tion pacts, high­light­ing a slate of pi­o­neer­ing as well as up-and-com­ing play­ers. While can­cer tar­gets loom large, im­munol­o­gy is al­so emerg­ing as a key field of in­ter­est.

Back in 2018 the com­pa­ny tapped Mis­sion Ther­a­peu­tics to un­earth some deu­biq­ui­ty­lat­ing en­zymes to tack­le Alzheimer’s and Parkin­son’s dis­ease. One year ago it chose a pan­el that’s go­ing in­to fur­ther char­ac­ter­i­za­tion and screen­ing.

The Fac­tors Dri­ving a Rapid Evo­lu­tion of Gene & Cell Ther­a­py and CAR-T Clin­i­cal Re­search in APAC

APAC is the fastest growing region globally for cell & gene therapy trials representing more than a third of all cell & gene studies globally, with China leading in the region. 

APAC is the leading location globally for CAR-T trials with China attracting ~60% of all CAR-T trials globally between 2015-2022. The number of CAR-T trials initiated by Western companies has rapidly increased in recent years (current CAGR of about 60%), with multiple targets being explored including CD19, CD20, CD22, BCMA, CD30, CD123, CD33, CD38, and CD138.

The End­points 11; blue­bird's $3M gene ther­a­py; Bio­gen tout new neu­ro da­ta; Harsh re­views for can­cer drugs; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

Reading about John Carroll’s pick of biotech’s most promising startups has become a treasured tradition. If you ever get curious about previous classes of the Endpoints 11, you can find all of them (plus a number of our other regular specials) here.

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EMA warns of short­ages of two Boehringer heart drugs due to a spike in de­mand

The EMA is putting EU member states on alert over the shortage of two drugs that counter heart attacks due to an uptick in demand.

On Friday, the EMA sent out a warning that two Boehringer Ingelheim drugs are experiencing a shortage: Actilyse and Metalyse. The drugs are used as emergency treatments for adults experiencing acute myocardial infarction, or a heart attack, by dissolving blood clots that have formed in the blood vessels.

The End­points 11: The top pri­vate biotechs in pur­suit of new drugs. Push­ing the en­ve­lope with pow­er­ful new tech­nolo­gies

Right around the beginning of the year, we got a close-up look at what happens after a boom ripples through biotech. The crash of life sciences stocks in Q1 was heard around the world.

In the months since, we’ve seen the natural Darwinian down cycle take effect. Reverse mergers made a comeback, with more burned out shells to go public at a time IPOs and road shows are out of favor. And no doubt some of the more recent arrivals on the investing side of the business are finding greener pastures.

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Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

Lend­ing a hand to a biotech in trou­ble, GSK drops $75M cash to add late-stage an­tibi­ot­ic to port­fo­lio

GSK likes to take pride in being one of the few Big Pharma players still active in antibiotics R&D. And that means keeping tabs on what the field has to offer.

In a move to beef up the late-stage pipeline, GSK is licensing a late-stage antibiotic candidate from Spero Therapeutics. In doing so, it’s coming to the rescue of a struggling biotech that’s crumbled in the wake of an FDA rejection and raised doubts about its ability to carry on.

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David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Servi­er cuts off col­lab­o­ra­tion agree­ment with Al­lo­gene on CD19 prod­ucts, send­ing shares sput­ter­ing

Allogene Therapeutics said in an SEC filing today that French partner Servier has cut off its involvement in a partnership developing therapies directed against CD19, including the most advanced candidates in Allogene’s pipeline.

Shares of Allogene $ALLO, an outfit run by Kite vets Arie Belldegrun and research chief David Chang, fell by almost 10% on Wednesday, even as the San Francisco-based company said that Servier’s discontinuation “does not otherwise affect our current exclusive license for the development and commercialization of CD19 Products in the United States.”

As­traZeneca, Mer­ck cull one Lyn­parza in­di­ca­tion in heav­i­ly pre­treat­ed ovar­i­an can­cer pa­tients

Just one day after blockbuster Lynparza got access to another indication in China, its Big Pharma owners have decided to withdraw it in certain patients after reviewing Phase III data.

The two companies that work together on Lynparza decided to recall one of the indications several weeks ago in a specific type of ovarian cancer, Lynparza’s first indication when it was first FDA-approved in 2014. Initial data showed that rates of overall survival in patients with at least three rounds of chemo before getting on the PARP inhibitor were lower than in patients with less previous chemo treatment.

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Fu­ji­film con­tin­ues CD­MO ex­pan­sion, break­ing ground on $435M UK site

Fujifilm’s CDMO arm, Fujifilm Diosynth, has been on a roll this month as the company has recently broken ground on a major project in Europe and it appears to be keeping up the momentum.

Fujifilm Diosynth announced that it has kicked off an expansion project for its microbial manufacturing facility at its campus in the town of Billingham, UK, in the northeast of England.

The 20,000 square-foot, £400 million ($435 million) expansion will add clean rooms, purification suites and a packing area along with more space for the manufacturing itself.

An­oth­er Cipla site lands a Form 483 over clean­ing is­sues and QC con­trols

A Cipla drug manufacturing site in India has once again landed in the crosshairs of FDA inspectors.

The facility in question is Cipla’s drug manufacturing facility in the village of Verna, in the state of Goa in India’s southwest. In a sign that foreign inspections might ramp up again, the FDA’s visit from Aug. 16 to Aug. 22 uncovered six observations.

The 11-page report noted that environmental monitoring at the site did not properly ensure that microbial contaminants were not making any impact in the aseptic filling areas. It also found that procedures meant to stop microbial contamination were not adequately conducted in aseptic areas of the facility.

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